Electric bikes have never seemed appealing or beautiful enough to warrant their prices - they have always looked like what they are...a bicycle with an afterthought motor.
Japanese riders are pretty enamored of electric bikes, however, with the market estimated at nearly 300,000 electric bikes last year. Sanyo's new electric-hybrid Eneloop bike has two features going for it: the frame looks pretty good (if a bit girly), and the motor works on the front wheel to give the rider triple the pedal power compared to a non-motorized bike. And the price is right in the middle of the spectrum: 136,000 yen ($1,430 dollars) when it hits Japanese stores next February.
Eneloop is supposed to triple a rider's pedal power with a forward-wheel motor and a system Sanyo describes as a 1:2 power assist ratio - this means around 30% of the power is generated by your own legs while 70% comes from the motor. It will go up to 100 kilometers on a single (3.5 hour) charge of the bike's 25.2v, 27Ah lithium-ion batteries (in Auto mode). Eneloop has three speeds and is a third more powerful than Sanyo's last electric bicycle model, the Enacle.
On uphill stretches, an Eneloop rider can press a small switch on the left handlebar to shift the bike into Auto mode, which automatically determines when the motor should kick in, or "Power Up" mode which provides twice the force of regular pedaling. The electric assistance is increased for speeds between 0 and 15 kilometers per hour, Sanyo said, and decreased during speeds of 15 and 24 kilometers per hour. There's a "Loop Charge" function so that the battery recharges both when the wheel is spinning during a downhill coast and/or when the left brake is applied. Sanyo says this charge-as-you-go is fine for top offs but doesn't replace recharging. A small indicator light on the back of the bike shows when Loop Charge is working. Sanyo has no firm plans but says it will eventually sell the Eneloop in markets other than Japan. Via: AFP
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